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Apple grabs ESPN app for its television box

By George Thomas Published: June 19, 2013

For those who pay little attention to such things, Apple’s move today to acquire access to two of the streaming world’s most popular apps – HBO to Go and WatchESPN – represents a seismic shift in the world of content streaming.

Actually, let’s forget about HBO for now.  It’s ESPN’s app, which allows access to a regular sports buffet of content across the worldwide leader’s assorted channels that officially makes Apple and its AppleTV box no longer a curiosity in the world of streaming.

In recent week’s Apple CEO referred to the small box as a “hobby.” You can’t call any device that has sold 13 million units since its launch a “hobby.”  And it’s about to become less so.

Having access to live sports, I argue, is the one killer feature that any streaming device needs.  Roku has it via a backdoor deal with Time Warner Cable and its TWC TV app. 

But now that Apple WatchESPN, they’ve instantly raised their profile.   It also represents a signal that Apple is in this streaming thing for the long haul.

But users shouldn’t rejoice.  While some predict a world in which apps eventually displace TV channels, it won’t be happening soon.  Especially with sports.  Right now that means that Apple TV users will have to remain tethered to a video provider for the time being.  ESPN isn’t about to allow anyone to touch a business model that provides them billions and revenue based on the number of subscribers cable companies have.

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